Forget high streets and shopping malls crammed with big-name stores; shopping in Cornwall is nothing like going shopping in the rest of the country. Here it is focussed around local craft markets, unique boutiques and independent labels, with many of the goods on sale made by local artisans and inspired by the coastal lifestyle.
If you love to shop, earmark a day to hit Cornwall’s only city: Truro. Here you’ll find everything from vintage fashion and funky shoe shops to food emporiums and festive pop-ups lining cobbled streets in the shadow of the cathedral. Dip into Lemon Street Market to fill your tins at The Refill Store – Cornwall’s very first zero-waste shop – and get your hands on unique home-ware, organic bread and hand-made jewellery. Follow your nose to the farmers’ market that takes over Lemon Quay every Wednesday and Saturday, for fresh veg, line-caught fish, just-cut flowers and Cornish charcuterie and condiments. If you love stylish interiors, stop in at the Uneeka home and lifestyle market, and if you love dressing up and glam nights out you might spend hours rifling through the racks at Enjoy Clothing.
If you’re seeking locally-inspired treasures to bring back memories of your holiday, you can’t beat the cobbled streets of St Ives for craft shops, galleries, surf shacks and independent book stores, all just a pebble’s throw from the sea. One of the most unusual shops in town is Kudos, on Fore Street, a tardis crammed with eclectic artefacts and alternative souvenirs – think rope balls, anchors and Amethyst cathedrals alongside antique furniture, flying pigs and musical instruments. If you want to unearth one-off artisan gems and meet their makers, head to the Sloop Craft Market or Back Road Artworks, where you can get your hands on the likes of stained glass, driftwood sculptures and beach-inspired jewellery. For prints and souvenirs by some of Cornwall’s greatest artists and writers, take a spin around the gift shop at the new Tate St Ives – and while you’re there head up to the roof terrace and take in the views that have inspired artists for centuries.
While many visitors stick to the honey pot of St Ives in search of arty purchases, nearby Penzance has its fair share of creative caverns where you can find a piece of Cornwall to take home. In this Bohemian market town you can stroll along the Victorian promenade, take a dip in the Art Deco lido and enjoy a shopping spree in contemporary and classic arty haunts. For vinyl LPs, ‘kitchenalia’ and vintage clothing, check out the quirky Steckfensters on Chapel Street, and for contemporary art, jewellery and sculptures make a beeline for the Lighthouse Gallery. If you’ve got a penchant for design accessories head to Space, where you can find everything from designer lampshades to vintage tea sets, or, if you prefer a mix of high street names and local gems, head for the Wharfside Shopping Centre.
Neighbouring Marazion is also well endowed with galleries and gift shops footsteps from the beach. Browse artwork by some of Cornwall’s greats, including Terry Frost and Kurt Jackson, at Out of the Blue Gallery, or discover a collection of contemporary paintings, jewellery, textiles and ceramics by local artists at Avalon Art. Soak up the gob-smacking scenery of St Michael’s Mount and Mount’s Bay as you make your way around the coastline to Mousehole, where there’s a cluster of galleries around the harbour. Stop in at The Ark and you can meet a local pewter craftsman who hand-makes jewellery and ornaments out of this silver-grey alloy that contains Cornish tin.
If you love stylish interiors, stop in at the Uneeka home and lifestyle market, and if you love dressing up and glam nights out you might spend hours rifling through the racks at Enjoy Clothing
Buzzing shopping scene
Within easy reach of St Ives and Mounts Bay, Hayle is getting a reputation as a shopping haven – and not just because of the popular West Cornwall Shopping Park brandishing the likes of M&S, Boots and Next. Bypass the big brands and head into the town proper, where you’ll discover all sorts of independent shops along the foreshore of this estuary town that was one of the world’s most important mining ports during the Industrial Revolution. Glam up with unique fashion items in Dune Boutique, deck yourself out with the latest eco-friendly surfing gear in Down the Line, and discover a thriving community of independent makers, designers and artists in the historic Pratt’s Market where you can find everything from a yarn shop to vintage furniture and second-hand surf and skate gear.
Another historic market town with a buzzing shopping scene, this time straddling the River Camel, is Wadebridge. A short distance along the Camel Trail from Padstow it’s little surprise to find an abundance of foodie shops in town – from traditional butchers to artisan bakeries. However, it’s also the array of music shops, fashion boutiques and quirky gift shops interspersed with divine cafes and wine bars that makes shopping here such a joy. For coastal inspired home accessories with a simple Scandinavian twist visit Coastal Scandi, and complete your beachy interior with a little something from the Cornwall Rug Company.
Whether you cycle from Wadebridge, hop on the ferry from Rock or park and ride the bus into town, Padstow is possibly one of the most picturesque pit stops for shoppers who want to take home a piece of the chic coastal lifestyle. Stroll along the quayside to peruse Dreya Wharry’s stained-glass seascapes at The Picture House, or get your hands on limited edition prints, unusual ceramics and bespoke patchwork furniture at Quay Art. Rick Stein’s interest in the town doesn’t stop at food; his ex-wife is also at the helm of a wonderful gift shop stacked with jewellery, ceramics and stylish home-ware inspired by her travels. And, if you’re in Cornwall on a winter break, the Padstow Christmas Market brings together the best of the county’s food, drink and gifts in one of the most vibrant and bustling events on Cornwall’s festive calendar.
Cruise west along the Atlantic Highway and pull over to discover an array of art, food, furniture and trendy interior accessories at the county’s coolest up-and-coming shopping hub, Hawksfield. Encapsulating the shopping ethos of Cornwall in a single location, here you can don ethical outdoor clothing from Finisterre, stock up on coastal-inspired vintage interior accessories from the Goose Shed, deck your pad out with vibrant art rooted in nature from Circle Contemporary, and toast your shopping experience with a world-class vintage from Bin Two wine shop.
It’s the array of music shops, fashion boutiques and quirky gift shops interspersed with divine cafes and wine bars that makes shopping in Wadebridge such a joy
Any surfer wannabes would be foolish to bypass the shopping experience of Newquay – home to one of the largest collections of surf shops in Europe. After one lap of the town you can be dressed up and dapper in the latest surf fashion, or ready to hit the waves with a wetsuit and board. Local brand, Married to the Sea, has just opened a new, bigger store in the high street filled with organic surf clothing and vintage clothes, as well as practical surfing gear from boards to beach games. At Fistral Surf Complex, right beside some of the best waves in Cornwall, there’s a line-up of surfside shops including Ann’s Cottage, Fat Face, Quiksilver and Animal. Flagging up the town’s eco-vibes and healthy lifestyle is the new Zero Waste Shop and Sprout Health Foods.
Style queens should head out of town to Porth Beach, where the ultra-trendy Roo’s Beach boutique is styled on the Cornish coastal life and crammed with designer clothes and accessories for beach babes. Carry on to Mawgan Porth and you’ll find a creative little community huddled by the beach. Original coastal-themed woodwork and crafts can be found in KaranDave studios, where a duo of local artists create laser-cut, hand-painted art inspired by the local environment. Just opposite is the unusual Disco Beads, where you can hand-make your own jewellery using eye-catching beads that glow in the light. However, it’s Married to the Sea that really sews up the vibe of this seaside community in its fashionable beachwear that’s made for every season. For funky Orla Kiely gifts, glassware and artwork, head up the hill to The Create Gallery at Bedruthan Hotel, where they also hold seasonal vintage and festive craft fairs that bring together some of Cornwall’s best artists and makers.
An unlikely, yet rewarding, destination for shoppers is the village of St Agnes, enveloped by some of Cornwall’s World Heritage mining territory. Perched on the cliffs, on the site of the historic Wheal Kitty mine, is the Finisterre workshop – the perfect place to kit yourself out for blustery coast path walks and saltwater adventures. Conceived by a group of cold-water surfers, this award-winning clothing brand produces functional, fashionable and ethically-sourced clothing made for life in the Great Outdoors. Alongside the Finisterre shop there’s a little community of workshops huddled on this cliff-top terrace, including Open, where you can shape your own surfboard and buy succulent plants to make your interior more tropical.
Wind your way down into the heart of the village to buy unusual hand-crafted gifts, including ceramics and metalwork from Churchtown Arts, and Cornish charm beads, hand-made pendants and hand-blown glass art from the Little Feathers Gallery. In the Jo Polack Studio and Gallery you can watch the textile artist at work creating her felt art, eco sculptures, shimmering mackerel shoals and stitch maps of local towns and villages.
Any surfer wannabes would be foolish to bypass the shopping experience of Newquay – home to one of the largest collections of surf shops in Europe